Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What's on Your Nightstand: After the holidays catch-up edition!

For the first time in YEARS I did not complete reading or listening to a single book in the past month!!! Readers here know that my Downton Abby obsession is in full swing. I've posted about it and I've spent my reading time enjoying writing Downton Abbey fan fiction that is currently into the 1940s. This has been a tremendous vehicle to get myself back into writing after several years "off." Since I did not post here in December I will give the list from that month instead.

In the same vein as An Uncommon Reader, Mrs. Queen Takes the Train is an imagined look into the daily life of Britian's Queen Elizabeth II. If you enjoy Royal watching, this one is not to be missed. Light and fun.

I hate it when I fall in love with a series that's still being written!! The wait for the next installment is so long and nerve-racking! What's not to love in Patrick Taylor's Ulster community of Ballybucklebo? A Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly is finally extinquishing the torch he's long carried for his long-lost wife and is marrying the sweetheart of his youth--Kitty.  Love, love, love this series. An Irish Country Wedding.  Also from this series I read and enjoyed the story of Fingal's medical school years titled A Dublin Student Doctor.

Sadly, I had to throw back another volume of the series backstory, An Irish Country Girl. This book was just awful. It read like a "Ghosts of Old...." pamphlet found in a tourist trap. I felt embarrassed for poor Mrs. Kincaid to be demeaned in this way. Finally, I also loved An Irish Country Christmas. Such a great series apart from the one unfortunate volume.

After my total disappointment with The Lacuna, I was reluctant to return to the world of Barbara Kingsolver. In the end I caved and tried Flight Behavior. While there are many, many excellent phrases and one marvelous little bit of local dialog (interview with a green-life pledge taker) this book failed more than it succeeded. It DID show how empowering work, earning and income and education can actually be for someone whose life has been defined by crushing poverty and lack of opportunities as well as by bad choices made at a young age, but then it segues into Kingsolver's becoming-habitual preaching (see "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It IS much, much better than Lucana which I found stupefyingly dull, but Kingsolver seems to have let success go to her head. She preaches and delivers stereotypical characters now instead of the brilliance of Poisonwood Bible (one of the best novels ever written) and Bean Trees or even not-up-to-brilliant-but-still-memorable Prodigal Summer.

Finally, I read another installment of the "Miss Read" series--Village Dieary. These are pleasant and I'm enjoying them slowly, but I'm not desperate to hear more of the story.

Once again I've hit two books alike! Not "alike" really, but with some coincidence bringing them together in my mind. Betty Smith's Maggie Now begins in Ireland. While it took me a while to get into this one, eventually I coudln't put it down--I had to know the rest of the story. We are the people are choices make us would be a sort of theme here. Maggie's love for Claude gives her a non-traditional marriage that leaves her with long times alone, yet she stands by her choice. It's not a heart-warming story, but nor is it a depressing story. This is one of a number of excellent books recommended to me by the writer Elizabeth Virdon.

What's on Your Nightstand this month? Check out all the great books at 5 Minutes for Books.


Susan said...

Have you heard the term "cozy mysteries?" I have a friend who's totally enthralled with them, and some of these seem like they might be in the genre ... Okay, so if I read a Barbara Kinsolver, should Poisonwood Bible be my first choice? I've not read anything by her. Mrs. Queen Takes the Train looks like fun!

Cassandra said...

I too hate it when I fall in love with a series that's still being written! I hate having to wait for the next installment. lol

I have not yet started the Downton Abby craze but I have a feeling it's only a matter of time. It's in my Netflix queue!

Happy reading!

mykidsmom said...

Ditto to Susan's question regarding which Kingsolver book to read first.

You never fail to inspire me with your reading lists!

Hopewell said...

Poisonwood Bible or Bean Trees--first is in Africa second is in USA.

Not sure what a "cozy mystery" is but I might like it!

A Dusty Frame said...

I LOVE Miss Read.

Jennifer Donovan said...

It is frustrating to wait for new books -- totally agree!

And yes, I got hooked on Downton last year. I've been enjoying this new season.

dstb said...

I've been waiting for your list, but I am glad you are getting back to some writing.

I loved Kingsolver's earlier works, but have to agree that I haven't been that interested in the more recent ones.

I read Irish Country Village and enjoyed it, but not as much as I like James Herriot books.

I haven't started Downton either. I know I will be sucked in, so I'm waiting.

I recently finished The House at Riverton which I really enjoyed. An Upstairs Downstairs story with a mystery. Very enjoyable. I also read the JM Barrie Ladies' Swimming Society which was okay. Entertaining enough to read, but I didn't always like the main character.

Thanks for your list!

Hopewell said...

Sarah--I'll take a look for the books you mentioned. I got House a Riverton when it came out but didn't get to it and it had holds on it. I need to put it back on the list. I agree on James Herriott--but those books are in a class by themselves!

elizabethvirdon said...

I added some of these recommendations to MY reading list, and than you!

elizabethvirdon said...

Blast. *THANK* you.


Beth said...

I'm glad I stopped by and learned there was a new installment in the Irish Country Doctor Series. Excellent series, except of course, An Irish Country Girl.